Bob Dylan shares his candid thoughts on streaming and how it has made music “too smooth and painless. Everything’s too easy.”
In a rare interview, the legendary Bob Dylan recently shared his stream-of-consciousness thoughts on technology and culture in the modern age and the ease of access to streaming music. The 81-year-old singer-songwriter and artist has numerous credits and awards, including 10 Grammys, an Oscar, and the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. Most recently, he released his second book, “The Philosophy of Modern Song.”
“I do love the sound of old vinyl, especially on a tube record player from back in the day,” says Dylan, who explains he also listens to music on CD, satellite radio, and streaming. “I bought three in an antique store in Oregon about 30 years ago. The tone quality is so powerful and miraculous, has so much depth. It always takes me back to the days when life was different and unpredictable.”
“Streaming has made music too smooth and painless. Everything’s too easy. Just one stroke of the ring finger, middle finger, one little click, that’s all it takes,” he continues.
“We’ve dropped the coin right into the slot. We’re pill poppers, cube heads and day trippers, hanging in, hanging out, gobbling blue devils, black mollies, anything we can get our hands on,” Dylan elaborates, painting the picture he sees as if he’s writing lyrics.
“Not to mention the nose candy and ganga (sic) grass. It’s all too easy, too democratic. You need a solar X-ray detector just to find somebody’s heart, see if they still have one.”
On discovering a great song, Bob Dylan says it’s a gut reaction and an emotional one that stays in your head long after you hear it. But he believes few modern pieces have the staying power to become standards.
“You don’t have to be a great singer to sing it. It’s bell, book, and candle. It touches you in secret places, strikes your innermost being,” he describes. “I can’t listen to music passively because I’m always assessing what’s special — or not — about a song and looking for inspiration in fragments, riffs, chords, even lyrics.”
“Very few songs of today will go on to become standards. Who is going to write standards today? A rap artist? A hip-hop or rock star? A raver, a sampling expert, a pop singer? That’s music for the establishment,” says Dylan.
“It’s easy listening. It just parodies real life, goes through the motions, puts on an act. A standard is on another level. It’s a role model for other songs, one in a thousand.”
Despite his divisive thoughts on modern music, Dylan’s views on social media appear much more open-minded. While he says social media enables users to “refashion anything, blot out memories, and change history,” he also recognizes it “brings happiness to a lot of people. Some people even discover love there. It’s fantastic if you’re a sociable person; the communication lines are wide open. But they can divide and separate us, as well.”